Friday, January 30, 2009

Pakistani Envoy Slams India Over Mumbai Article

Pakistani Envoy Slams India Over Mumbai Article
more in World »By MATTHEW ROSENBERG in New Delhi and MARC CHAMPION in Davos, Switzerland
A senior Pakistani diplomat said last year's terrorist rampage in Mumbai wasn't planned in Pakistan, and accused India of backing up its allegations of a Pakistani link with "fabricated" and "flimsy" evidence.
Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner to Britain, made his comments Friday to The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets. It was unclear whether his views represented the government's official conclusions on a dossier provided several weeks ago by India.

The dossier, prepared by the Indian government, said the plot for the late-November assault was hatched in Pakistan and carried out by Pakistanis directed by Pakistan-based terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Mr. Hasan, speaking from London in a telephone interview, cautioned that he had only talked with people involved in the Pakistani investigation and hadn't seen his government's official report on the Indian dossier. Mr. Hasan said the report is likely be released Monday or Tuesday.

Mr. Hasan's comments contradict statements by Pakistani security officials, who have said privately that at least one suspect -- a senior Lashkar member --arrested by Pakistan after the assault, has confessed that his group plotted the operation, trained the attackers at bases inside Pakistan and maintained phone contact with the gunmen during the three-day killing spree.

Pakistan's prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, who is at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, that the investigation is continuing. Mr. Gilani said he didn't want to comment on the investigation or the High Commissioner's remarks, which he said he hadn't seen.

Mr. Hasan's remarks appear to reflect broader uncertainty in Islamabad over how to respond to the Mumbai attacks. While some officials are inclined to pursue the culprits -- because of international pressure and Pakistan's battle against Islamic militant groups -- at the same time, many don't want to be seen as caving to Indian demands for action.

Mr. Hasan said he was speaking with the media only because of persistent questions about whether the attacks "were planned in Pakistan or the U.K.'

He said the people he spoke with told him that "it was not the U.K., not Pakistan that was used for planning purposes."

Mr. Hasan said Pakistan's Interior Ministry is still investigating where the planning took place. "It could have been a neighboring country," he added. He declined to be more specific.

An Indian foreign ministry official expressed disbelief when told of Mr. Hasan's statements. The official said "we expect them to come clean" but that New Delhi would wait for the final report on the Pakistani investigation before formally responding.

In Washington, U.S. officials said they continue to believe that Lashkar-e-Taiba members in Pakistan were behind the Mumbai attacks. "There are strong indications that much of the plot was hatched by individuals in Pakistan," a U.S. counterterrorism official said.

Mr. Hasan said the fact that the sole surviving gunman, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, is Pakistani proves nothing: "Like I am a Pakistani national living and operating in Britain, this Kasab chap could be operating anywhere and holding a Pakistani passport."

Indian police say Mr. Kasab has told investigators that he was trained in Pakistan by Lashkar and that he sailed from the port of Karachi in Pakistan to Mumbai with nine other gunmen, who were all killed by Indian security forces. U.S. and European officials say they have intelligence that backs up that account. In December, Pakistan arrested dozens of Lashkar members under pressure from the international community.

Prime Minister Gilani, during the Davos interview, said the new administration in Washington should make visible changes to U.S. strategy in the region "so it should not be seen as the previous (U.S.) government."

Mr. Gilani singled out the issue of U.S. drones making attacks on Pakistani soil, saying that such attacks stir anti-Americanism and make it harder to win hearts and minds on the ground. A better approach, he said, would be for the U.S. to share intelligence so that Pakistan's military can carry out attacks on militants themselves.

—Zahid Hussain in Islamabad and Siobhan Gorman in Washington contributed to this article.
Write to Matthew Rosenberg at and Marc Champion at

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